On Thursday night, Tampa Bay Rays RP Fernando Rodney entered the game with a 3-1 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the top of the ninth inning. Rodney was confident he could close out the game against the AL East rival, but quickly filled up the bases after walking a career-high three consecutive Bo Sox batters. He was missing pitches so badly that catcher, Jose Molina, had to jump out of his squat to catch them and the All-Star closer once again looked off his game.
Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks crushed a bases-clearing double off the pitcher and a visibly frustrated Rodney was once again outdone. When the game was finally concluded, Rodney had allowed five base runners, blown a 3-1 lead, and given up three runs. This has been the epitome of Rodney’s fantasy baseball season so far.
During 2013 fantasy drafts, Rodney was easily a top-three closer in every format. Rodney saved an American League-leading 48 games in 2012 and recorded a spotless 0.78 ERA with an even better 0.60 WHIP.
However, right now the reliever isn’t even ranked among the top-15 in saves in the majors. Rodney is currently tied for 19th with seven saves, which wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t already blow three saves. Not exactly the value people were expecting from the superstar fantasy closer this season.
There were some warning signs regarding Rodney’s potential decline in 2013. For one, the veteran hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2006, so it may have been a little premature to crown him the premier closer in the AL.
Also Rodney pitched in the 2013 World Baseball Classic with the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans won the title this season, so it only had Rodney on the mound longer and together with the team longer. He may have only pitched 7.1 innings and ironically had a flawless 0.00 ERA, but the tournament still must have taken a toll on the 36-year-old pitcher.
Rodney is obviously still a starting fantasy closer, but he simply isn’t living up to his value this season. Many people drafted him to carry their team and the veteran has since become just a mid-level closer.